December 9, 1995
Web posted at: 12:15 a.m. EST
From Correspondent Wolf Blitzer
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With both of their seven-year balanced budget plans on the table, the White House and Republicans are still locking horns and refusing to budge. And once again, the government is headed for a shutdown.
Medicaid, the government's health program for 36 million poor and disabled Americans, has become the latest political hot potato in the budget battle.
"It's almost the height of arrogance to say that now these programs have become duplicative, burdensome, full of red tape and inefficient, that we don't trust the people back in the local communities and local legislatures."
-- House Budget Committee chairman John Kasich
After Republicans threatened to removed Medicaid as a guaranteed entitlement, President Clinton issued a warning. "I will not permit the repeal of guaranteed medical coverage for senior citizens, for disabled people, for poor children and pregnant women. That would violate our values. It is not necessary and therefore if it continues to be a part of the budget, if necessary, I would veto it again," the president said. (221K AIFF sound or 221K WAV sound)
But the Republicans say that there's enormous waste in the systemm and that the states could administer it better. "It's almost the height of arrogance to say that now these programs have become duplicative, burdensome, full of red tape and inefficient, that we don't trust the people back in the local communities and local legislatures," House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich said.
The Republicans' seven-year plan calls for $163 billion in Medicaid savings; Clinton's plan calls for about a third of that, $54 billion. Neither side is showing any signs of budging.
"The president is deeply concerned by the threats of some Republicans members of Congress to shut down the government again in an effort to force the president to agree to the Republican budget."
-- White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta
One day after the president presented his budget proposal, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich sent a letter to the president saying they want the White House to resubmit their proposal with numbers scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
Clinton's plan numbers were approved by the president's Office of Management and Budget.
White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta wrote back to Dole and Gingrich, saying that "the president is deeply concerned by the threats of some Republicans members of Congress to shut down the government again in an effort to force the president to agree to the Republican budget." Panetta also said that the "threats" will not work and are "irresponsible."
In the meantime, bipartisan budget talks have been put on hold till next Tuesday when the CBO is supposed to release its new economic forecast.
If there's no budget deal by next Friday, another partial government shutdown or another stopgap spending resolution is expected. The White House wants to issue a resolution to keep the government operating till January 26; the Republicans say that's too long but have not set a date of their own.
That's drawing an angry reaction from the White House. "They said, 'No way, no how. Let's go to the brink.' I think they like that up there now. Why? I don't think they like government. There are a lot of of them who say that, point blank, up there," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said. (153K AIFF sound or 153K WAV sound)
The latest CNN-Time poll shows that the American public, by a 51 to 34 percent margin, believes the president's budget is better for the country than the GOP's. And that's helping White House officials hold firm, for now.
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